The Chichaqua Valley Trail is a converted rail-trail traveling twenty-six miles through several small Iowa communities, forested corridor, and open farmland. The concrete/ asphalt trail changes to crushed gravel north of Mingo. South of Berwick cyclists can connect with the High Trestle Trail, Neal Smith Trail or Heart of Iowa Nature Trail via Ankeny or pedal to Pleasant Hill and Altoona.
Lake Petocka serves as a nice trailhead for a family ride. A cement path surrounds the lake for young riders to enjoy. There is ample parking along with a playground and picnic shelter.
November days filled with sunshine and warm temperatures are a treasured treat . They bring a sense of urgency and a heightened need to get outside. Because, you never know, it could be The Last Good Day Before Winter! The logical remedy is to find a bike trail, savor a ride and create memories to tap when tolerating the cold months of winter.
For me, what to do on this beautiful day was a no-brainer. My husband also knew how he was going to spend his time outside. But my son? He had a BIG decision to make. Bike or fish? As tempting as it was to lobby for my favorite hobby I kept quiet and waited for the verdict. Would it be fish for trout with Dad at Lake Petocka or ride with Mom on the Chichaqua?
Two bikes were loaded up along with one fly rod and we headed to Bondurant. Using the park as our trailhead, the plan was an out-n-back to Valeria. This is an easy stretch of trail. It's in fantastic condition and runs flat. And the scenery...in the fall it's beyond beautiful.
We took our time stopping to check out several curiosities:
- An ape spray painted on the back of a trail sign.
- A snake that survived being run over by a mountain bike.
- A paper wasp nest hanging from the branches of a Sycamore tree.
- A leaf bigger than a bike bag.
One mile of our ride passed through public hunting area. With bird season underway we chose to wear our "don't shoot at me orange". Hunters are required to either case or disable their guns before entering the trail and hunting is prohibited on the trail right of way.
Reaching Valeria we took a bike break and enjoyed a snack while watching some nearby cows. Then a question was posed. Who would be faster? A sprinting cow or Mom on her bike?
Time to head back to the park.